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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 16, 2012 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT

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after-tax income. and as long as the government only takes a portion of the fruit, then the government's not diminishing the ability of the tree to produce. -- to produce that fruit. but if the government comes along and says, in addition to taking a whole lot of the fruit, we want to saw off a branch because we'd like to firewood. well, now, that's a whole different matter. because whatever you think of how much of that -- those apples or whatever the portion of that fruit you'd like to take from the fearm, once you -- farmer, once you start cutting at the tree, you're diminishing the ability of the tree to produce income for the good of the farmer and for society. s that's what happens when we restrict capital, and that's what i'm afraid the path that we'd be going down if we adopt this. this is bad economic policy. we already have the most progressive tax code in the world and very progressive by our own historical standards. mr. president, for the sake of job growth, economic growth and in the hopes that we will
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instead have a meaningful discussion about budget policy and tax reform, i urge my colleagues to vote "no" today on the cloture motion on the buffett rule, and i yield the floor. mr. rockefeller: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, one year ago last month our nation lost an esteemed public servant and an outstanding human being. judge m. blane michael, who served on the u.s. court of appeals for the fourth circuit for a number of years. with his passing, we were, therefore, left with a great void not only on the federal judiciary, but also in the hearts of the family and his many friends. so it is with a profound sense of obligation to the people of west virginia and america that i set out to find a nominee to
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fill his vacancy. my duty to provide advice and consent took on to me additional significance. in west virginia, we are fortunate to have many talented and worthy lawyers who are capable of serving and who are willing to serve on the federal bench. but the nominee before the senate today, stephanie dawn thacker, completely stood out to me and in turn to president obama, as somebody who is uniquely qualified to carry on in her own way judge michael's legacy of independence, humility, intellectual honesty as a federal judge. there is no question that stephanie thacker has reached the heights of the legal profession both as an
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award-winning public servant and also as an esteemed lawyer in private practice. and her rise is all the more impressive because of the challenges she overcame. the circumstances of stephanie thacker's early life were not easy. her hometown, hammond, west virginia, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, a place where nothing is taken for granted and where every success has to be hard-earned. stephanie credits a supportive family and community and the influence of two extraordinary and strong women who assumed her ability to achieve against the odds. while still in the crib, stephanie's mother and grandmother told her every day that she would go to college.
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and then when she did, in college, they told her she would succeed in law school. they instilled in her the value of education and a strong sense of public service and duty to her country, which we fulfill again today. ms. thacker heeded their advice graduating phag into cum laude from marshal university and second in her class from western university college of law where she was an editor of the law review. over the next 21 years, her passion and respect for the law along with her drive to seek justice for her clients resulted in this illustrious career. ms. thacker's reputation is as compassionate a person, yet tough as an attorney who makes thoughtful, very well-researched
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and, therefore, confident arguments that are always based upon the law and the facts in the cases. these skills and character are evident in her 12 years of service, mr. president, as a federal prosecutor, where she rose to be principal deputy chief of the department of justice's child exploitation and obscenity section. among her accomplishments are prosecuting the first federal violence against women case. helping to develop the nationwide innocence lost initiative to combat child sex trafficking, which to date has led to the rescue of more than 1,600 children and to the conviction of more than 700 sex offenders. she coauthored the federal child support prosecution handbook, reviewing and amending west
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virginia's domestic violence laws, and prosecuting notorious child sex offender dwight york, and of such interest to me, training national and international law enforcement officers on the prosecution of child exploitation crimes. this body of work has rightly earned her bipartisan praise from united states senators, from f.b.i. director mueller, former attorneys general gonzalez and ashcroft who in fact awarded her the distinguished service award, which is among the department's highest commendations. and these accomplishments are illustrative of the experience and qualifications stephanie thacker offers in service to the u.s. court of appeals of the fourth circuit. she has the courage to make
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tough decisions, and she will not back down from any challenge. she has the very superior intellect necessary to analyze the complex issues that make up the federal appeals courts cases. she will look at every case with a fair and open mind and will issue opinions that are guided by our constitutional principles and always grounded in the law. and she will never forget her solemn duty to uphold fairness and justice for everyone, regardless of social status or economic means. in conclusion, mr. president, it is with great optimism, pride, and a renewed spirit that i look to the future knowing that this important appellate vacancy will
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in fact hopefully be filled by such a qualified person as stephanie dawn thacker. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, i rise today, first of all, to thank my senior senator, my friend, senator rockefeller, for nominating such a qualified jurist. upon the passing of our defriend judge michael. stephanie dawn thacker is a native of hammond, west virginia, and we're awaiting her confirmation this afternoon with a vote which i know will be an affirmative. it is my privilege really to speak on her behalf also. stephanie thacker's impressive background and extensive list of accomplishments in both the public and private sectors make her an exceptional judge for the fourth circuit. she is renowned our state for her masterry of the court and in
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the courtroom. ms. thacker has dedicated much of her career to fighting some of the worst offenses in our society as a trial attorney, deputy chief of litigation and principal deputy chief. she spent several years prosecuting cases. as you've heard on child exploitation, obscenity at the department of justice, her outstanding work in leadership earned her a number of honors in the department of justice including four meritorious awards and two special achievement wards. her exceptional peformance in prosecuting the case of the united states versus dwight york earned her the attorney general's distinguished service award, one of the department's highest honorsened and she was also -- honors and she was a recipient of the reward for special initiative and outstanding victim services. ms. thacker worked with the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of west virginia where she prosecuted a wide variety of criminal cases, including money laundering and fraud. while at the u.s. attorneys'
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office, ms. thacker participated on the trial team prosecuting united states versus bailey, the first case brought under the violence against women act. since 2006 ms. thacker has been a partner in the law firm of guthrie and thomas in west virginia. there she concentrated on cases involving product liability and criminal defense. she was a model student in her undergraduate and legal studies. she earned her bachelors degree in business administration, magna cum laude and j.d. order of the coif from west virginia college of law. while at west virginia university she was a recipient of the robert l. griffith memorial scholarship aepbd tor of tk-pbd -- aepbd tor of the law review. she has been named outstanding female attorney. ms. thacker's wide ranging expertise and civil and criminal matters, her impressive track record in the courtroom as both
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a prosecutor and defense attorney and her outstanding academic accomplishments will make her a first-rate addition to the fourth circuit. i am proud to call her a fellow west virginian, and i am pleased that she will finally be confirmed. and, mr. president, while i have the floor, i want to speak also on the buffett rule. i had the enormous privilege to spend the last two weeks traveling around my great state to hear from the people of west virginia and it is always refreshing to get a dose of common sense from people who are working hard toefrd -- every day to balance the family budget. people are losing confidence in the fairness of government especially when it comes to our broken tax system. whether in beckley, ravens wood, i heard the same thing from the people of my state. we don't understand why
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hardworking middle-income people are paying as much in the tax rate as the wealthy in our country. take our coal miners who go to the mines every day to make a living for themselves and our family, they mine the coal producing the energy this country needs but they are paying higher tax rates than some making $1 million a year or more. where i come from it's not fair, mr. president. and where it come from, it doesn't make any sense. where i come from, that means our system needs to be fixed in a real, responsible and fiscally sound way that reduces our debt. let me be clear, i'm not begrudging anyone who has worked hard, taken a risk or who has done extremely well financially, but we have to have a solid country under us to achieve those goals, and we need to put fairness back in the tax system to get this country on solid ground again. and if we want a fair system, that means that there shouldn't be a privilege that allow the very wealthy to pay a lower rate than the hardworking middle-class americans. right now the average person doesn't have those opportunities
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or privileges. but when people believe the american dream is in reach, they'll all pull together a little harder. so today, mr. president, i rise to speak about my support for the buffett rule which would take a small step toward fixing the unfair system and paying down this country's nearly $16 trillion of debt. now a lot of people here believe that this bill will fail because of politics on mostly a party line vote, and that is a shame because the only line that we should be voting for is the american line. for a year and a half i've been coming to the senate floor to urge my colleagues to put party and politics aside and vote for the good of the next generation, not the next election, whether it's a democrat idea or republican idea. but, mr. president, even though this vote on the buffett rule might fail today on party lines, we cannot give up. we have to find a way to come together for the next generation. now i've said before let the buffett rule alone does not address the full scope of the problem. all it does is nibble around the edges of our broken tax code. we still have too many
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corporations that can take advantage of too many loopholes, credits and exemptions. we're pushing $16 trillion in debt and we're still spending more than $1 trillion more than we take in every year. that just doesn't make sense. we've got to fix the whole thing so that we can start reducing our deficit, paying down our debt, and putting our fiscal house back in order for the next generation. to do that, we have a plan with bipartisan support. i'm sure that you all have heard about it. it's called the simpson-bowles. it's a framework, a template which will reduce loopholes, exemptions and credits across the board. it will lower tax rates and get everyone to pay their fair share. just as importantly, it would cut spending and start paying down our debt. i can't tell you how important this is to the people of west virginia, the taxpayers in every single income bracket who don't trust the government to spend their tax dollars wisely. just like all americans have the responsibility to pay their fair share, washington has the responsibility to show the people of this country, no
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matter how much money they make, that they're using the tax dollars wisely and effectively, just like we did in west virginia. that's why i believe we must, and i will continue to fight, to cut back on our spending. we have to eliminate the $125 billion we spent in waste, fraud and abuse last year alone. and most importantly, we have to pay down the nearly $16 trillion of debt, a hole we have dug for the next generation. the buffett rule would take a small step to show the american people that we're trying to correct those problems. and and most importantly, it'll put some basic fairness back in our tax system. even though this vote might fail, in west virginia we will to inwork harksd we will continue to pay our tanches we will continue to fight to make sure that when our coal miners e send in their tax dlarks the people who make $1 million a year aren't getting away with paying less. the future depends on those of
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us in washington working together to restore confidence in this great nation. when people believe that everyone is paying their fair sharks they're all willing to pull their load a little harder. if people start believing in this country again, there is no stopping us. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: again, we are moving forward under the regular order and procedure of the senate on another nomination for the judiciary. this year we have been in session for about 37 days, including today. during that time we have confirmed 15 judges. that's anage of better than -- that's an average of better than one confirmation for every two and a half days that the senate has been in session. with the confirmations today, the senate have confirmed nearly 75% of president obama's article 3 judicial nominations. despite this progress, we still hear complaints about the
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judicial vacancy rate. we're filling those vacancies but, again be, i want to remind my colleagues, that of the 82 current vacancies, 50 have no nomination. that is over 60% of the vacancies with no nominee, and quite frankly, everybody understands it. we can't fill vacancies if the president doesn't get those names up here to the senate. another complaint we hear, which is a distortion of the record, is the so-called delay in confirming nominees. those who raise this complaint only focus on the time a nominee is reported out of committee until confirmation, but the confirmation process is more than just senate floor action. for those who may not be familiar with the confirmation process, i would review. once a nomination is received, the committee takes an appropriate amount of time to review the nominee's senate
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questionnaire and background and review written materials. the committee holds a hearing on judicial nominees and then holds a record open for additional written questions. of course, this is debate on the nomination in committee, then the nomination is reported to the floor. all of this takes time. every step is important. not all nominees make it through the first step. the average time for this process for president bush's circuit judge nominees was 350 days. 350 days from the time president bush put circuit judges up to the senate until they were confirmed. that means it took, on average, nearly 1 months from the time -- 12 months from the time a nomination was received in the senate until final confirmation. for president obama's circuit nominees, the average time for a nomination to confirmation is
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243 days. that means president obama's circuit nominees are being confirmed much faster than those of president bush. so to those who ask, what is different about this president? well, a legitimate question. i would respond to that question this way: that one thing that is different is that this president's circuit nominees are being treated much more fairly than president bush's nominees were treated. as i stated, not all nominees make it through every step of the process. in the case of our nominee today, she completed that process in about 220 days below theagtheage ofthe average for p. she will likely be confirmed and take her place on the court of appeals for the fourth circuit. this was not the outcome for many of the president bush's nominees to the fourth circuit.
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so i would like to review some highlights about those failed nominations. do my colleagues remember the name william haynes, president bush's nominee to sit on the fourth circuit in the 108th congress? my democratic colleagues held up his nomination for 638 days on the senate calendar alone before it was returned to the president. all in all, he put his life on hold for 1,073 days and never received an up-or-down vote. later during the 1 10th corntion the first circuit had a vacancy rate of 33%, the president did his duty and submitted four nominations. unfortunately, all of them needlessly delayed. judge robert conrad was nominated to a seat on the fourth circuit which had been designated as a judicial emergency. both home state senators supported this nomination.
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further, he had received unanimous support from the senate on two prior occasions. first when he was confirmed to be a u.s. attorney and again when he was confirmed by voice vote to be a united states district judge for the western district of north carolina. the american bar association standing committee on the federal judiciary unanimously gave him a rating of "well-qualified." judge conrad met every standard to be considered a well-qualified, noncontroversial consensus nominee. yet his nomination stalled. he was nominated on july 17, 2007, despite his extensive qualifications, a hearing was never scheduled. on october 2, 2007, senator burr and dole sent a letter to the chairman asking for a hearing for judge conrad. on april 15, 2008, they sent a second letter to the chairman requesting a hearing on judge conrad. their request was never granted.
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after waiting 585 days for a hearing that never came, judge conrad's nomination was returned on jun 2, 2009. steve matthews was never nominee for the fourth circuit nomination. on september 6, 200, he was a graduate of yale law school had a distinguished career, private practice south carolina. he also had the support of his home state senators. on april 15, 2008, senators graham and demint sent letter to the chairman asking for a hearing for mr. matthews. despite his qualifications, mr mr. matthews waited 485 days for a hearing that was never held. his nomination was returned on january 2, 2009. rod rosen stein was nominated to the first sic circuit seat on november 15, 2008.
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the american bar association standing committee on the federal judiciary unanimously rated mr. rosenstein "well-qualified." previously in 2005, he had been confirmed in a noncontroversial voice vote as united states attorney of maryland. prior to his service as u.s. attorney generals he held several positions in the department of justice under both republican and democratic administrations. on june 24, 2508, senator specter, ranking republican of the committee, sent a letter to mr. rosenstein's home state senators pointing out that the seat to which mr. rosenstein had been nominated had been vacant since august of the year 2000. at that point, that was eight years. he requested -- senator specter requested they return their blue slips to his nomination. that request was declined.
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reportedly because the nominee lacked the ties to maryland and was doing a good job as u.s. attorney for maryland. and of course that rationale somewhat is perplexing, if not inconsistent. nevertheless, despite his stellar qualifications, mr. rose enstein waited 414 days for a hearing that never came. his nomination was returned january 2, 2009. judge conrad was another failed nomination of the fourth circuit. nominated on may 8, 2008, he had support from his home state senators, one republican, one democrat. judge conrad had previously been supported by the full senate when he was confirmed to be a united states district judge, western be district virginia by unanimous consent, bipartisan vote, 89-0. despite his extensive qualifications, judge glen
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conrad waited 240 days for a hearing that never came. his nomination was returned to the white house january 2, 2009. what was the reaction to this democratic obstruction to president bush's fourth circuit nominees? a december 2007 "washington post" editorial lamented the dire straits of the fourth circuit writing, quote, "the senate should act in good faith to fill vacancies, not as a favorite favor to the president but out of respect to the residents, businesses, defendants, and victims of crime in the region of the fourth circuit covering. two nominees, mr. conrad, and steven a. matthew, should receive confirmation hearings as soon as possible." end of "the washington post" poll -- or quote. in 2508, another "washington post" editorial stated that
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quote "blocking mr. rose enstein's confirmation hearing would elevate ideology and ego above substance and merit and it would unfairly penalize a man who people on both sides of this question agree is well-qualified for a judgeship." end of quote. i would note that the seat to which mr. rose enstein was nominated went vacant for over nine years when president obama made his confirmation to that vacancy, the nominee fared far better. he received a hearing in a mere 27 days after his nomination and received a committee vote just 36 days lairlt. so today as we confirm another of president obama's nominees to the fourth circuit, i hope my colleagues understand, recognize, and acknowledge that president obama's nominees are being treated in a very fair mearchlt i ask unanimous consent to place the balance of my
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statement in the romplet record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: do you want to speak, senator? i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rockefeller: i ask that the yeas and nays be ordered. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question is on the nomination. mr. rockefeller: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officñ the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 91, the nays are 3. the nomination is confirmed.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is made and laid upon the table, the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative session. mr. reid: we can't hear. can't hear. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order, please. mr. reid: are we in legislative? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: reid: have we moved t- the presiding officer: we are in legislative session. mr. reid: couldn't hear. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent there be two minutes equally divided prior to a cloture vote on the motion to proceed equally divided. the presiding officer: is there objection? if not, without objection. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: would the senate please be in order. would the senate please be in order. mr. reid: mr. president, we have
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two minutes. everyone has to cease and desist for two minutes. the presiding officer: if you would please take your conversations off the floor. the senate will be in order. the majority leader. i yield to senator whitehouse. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, many americans sat down last week to prepare their taxes knowing from warren buffett and others that the highest-income americans very often are paying a lower tax rate than they have to. the 400 highest-income americans, the most recent data shows, paid an all-in tax rate of 18.2%, on average. some paid a lot less. warren buffett one year paid an 11% tax rate. reuters reported today that about 65% of taxpayers who earn more than $1 million face a lower tax rate than the median tax rate for moderate-income
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earners making $100,000 or less a year. this bill will raise between $47 billion and $162 billion that could go for deaf sit reduction -- for deficit reduction or hundreds of thousands of infrastructure jobs or to keep student interest rates at 3.4%. and end the absurd inequity in our tax code that lets a hedge fund billionaire pay a lower tax rate than a rhode island truck driver. i hope my colleagues will vote "yea." the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: mr. president, everyone knows that this is not going to pass. this is a political exercise. i urge my colleagues to vote "no." the fact of the matter is that on average, the people in the upper two brackets pay more than twice as much in their income tax rate as the people in -- that we call the middle-class taxpayers. and so the basis -- the factual basis upon which this is allegedly founded is incorrect. the truth of the matter is that
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this don't -- that this legislation will do nothing with regard to job creation, with regard to gas prices, with regard to economic recovery or any of the other matters that the american people care about. and as a result, to focus attention on something like this is to try to draw attention away from the issues that the american people are most concerned about. i urge my colleagues to vote "no." the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned -- the presiding officer: can we have order in the senate, please. the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 339, s. 2230, a bill to reduce the deficit by imposing a minimum effective tax rate for high-income taxpayers. signed by 18 senators.
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the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to senate 2230, a bill to reduce the deficit by imposing a minimum effective tax rate for high-income taxpayers, shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: any other senators wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 51 and the nays are 45. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island.
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president, let me ask unanimous consent, if i may, for the senate to proceed to a period of morning business with senator permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. mr. president, i will be closing the senate very shortly, but before i do, i wanted to say a few words about a topic that came up today. obviously i was pleased that a majority of the senate -- indeed, a bipartisan majority of the senate -- has just voted to eliminate an unfortunate gimmick in the tax code that allows people who make north of a quarter of a billion dollars a year to pay lower tax rates than a providence, rhode island, truck driver pays, if he's single. and i think that's pretty hard
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to justify, frankly. i think a lot of americans spent last week preparing their taxes and having heard from warren buffett who one year paid an 11% all-in federal tax rate, a rate obviously higher than his secretary paid, something that mr. buffett himself has complained about. there's a pretty wide sense that the american tax code serves special interests and people who have phenomenal amounts of wealth much better than it serves regular, middle-class taxpayers. and that's particularly true if you avoid doing what my republican colleagues have done which is to focus on the most progressive part of the tax code, the income tax, and ignore the most regressive part of the tax code, the part that hits working families the hardest, which is the payroll taxes. and almost everything they say about the american tax code conveniently omits the taxes
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that most americans -- more americans pay than the income tax, frank. but we had a good discussion on that subject and i think because it was so difficult for so many of my colleagues to come out in favor of an upside-down tax situation in which somebody making a quarter of a billion dollars pays a lower rate than somebody making $100,000 or $90,000, other topics were brought up. we kind of had a march through all the possible topics one could practically think of and one of them very central to all of us here in the senate today is jobs. and it was pointed out that the tax fairness bill is not a jobs bill. of course, it would be if you take the $47 billion to $162 billion in revenue that it creates and put it towards infrastructure. then it would create literally hundreds of thousands of jobs. but because it doesn't define
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where the revenue's going to go, i can't say that it is a jobs bill. it's a tax fairness bill. that was its intention. but we do have a jobs bill here in congress. we have a very significant jobs bill. we have a highway transportation bill. the presiding officer serves with me on the environment and public works committee and knows how hard we worked to get that bill through the environment and public works committee. it is exactly the kind of bill that people i think from outside of washington looking in at washington want to see us do. you had a chairman on the environment and public works committee, barbara boxer of california, and a ranking member on the environment and public works committee, senator inhofe of oklahoma, who are from about as polar opposite political points of view as they could be,
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but they found a way to come together on this bill. they worked with all of us on the committee and as a result the bill passed out of the environment and public works committee unanimously. unanimously. every republican and every democrat. then it came to the floor and there are complaints from time to time around here that stuff gets jammed on the floor and there isn't enough of an open amendment process. there was five weeks of debate and amendment on the senate floor of this bill. 40 amendments -- more than 40. i think it was actually 41 amendments were added to the bill, either by vote or by agreement during the course of that. republican amendments, democratic amendments. and when the dust settled on the whole process and everybody had had their say and everybody had had their vote and all the amendments that could be considered were considered, we voted on it. and 75 senators either voted for it or were out of town and have said that they would have voted for it had they been here.
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so you had an effective vote of 75-22 i think. by our standards here, that is a colossal bipartisan landslide. and the bill itself was supported by everybody from the united states chamber of commerce, which is probably the most active republican lobbying and political organization in the country, to environmental groups, to the laborers' union. this is a bill that everybody supports. and from a jobs point of view, it's 2.9 million jobs. it's 9,000 jobs in my home state of rhode island. this is a big deal. the bill was sent over to the other side and there it sits. the speaker won't take it up. and what i hear is it's because he doesn't want to count on democratic votes.
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to somebody who wants a job or who wants a husband or a sister to have a job out working, rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebuilding highways, rebuilding our national infrastructure, it's pretty hard to explain why you'd walk away from a bill that creates 3 million jobs, that's bipartisan, that went through a full process in the senate when they have no bill of their own -- no bill whatsoever of their own -- and do so because they don't want to use democrat votes? that's sort of the ultimate washington insider reason for not doing something important to the country. so when we talk about jobs in the senate, until we get action in the house that creates a real bill, i don't think we should be getting any lectures about jobs from our republican colleagues. i'm told that the house is passing another extension.
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and as the presiding officer knows, these extensions cost a ton in the way of jobs. and it's been estimated by our director of transportation that it would be a thousand jobs lost in rhode island just from the extension that we have already agreed to through the ends of june. if -- through the end of june. if we pass that through the end of september, there goes the entire building season. and that's going to hurt. i spent time in rhode island when we were home over the recess period with the director of transportation, who's a very able director. he's worked under republican and now independent governors. and he describes that they have a list, you know, this long of projects that they want to get done this summer in the building season. but if they don't know until july what the funding is going
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to be, he said, i've got to drop off a lot of those projects off the bottom. and when i do that, that's a lot of jobs. and it's unnecessary. we could be passing this bipartisan senate bill through the house very quickly. democrats would vote for it. many republicans would vote for it. and all those jobs would be able to start up right away. so if we extend it further into september, that makes it even worse. so it is really urgent that we not continue down a path of just delay and delay and delay of the bill. and it's not only me saying this the folks at standard & poor's have just come out with a report that is titled, "increasing
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unpredictable federal funding could stall u.s. transportation infrastructure projects." they point out that as the construction season begins in the northern half of the country , this continuing uncertainty in funding could force states to delay projects rather than risk funding changes or political gridlock come july, exactly what director lewis told me, that simply the uncertainty will move jobs off of the list that can be done in this construction season. the report continues that the political gridlock in washington, d.c. -- ie., the speaker being willing to call up a bipartisan 75-22 senate bill with republican amendments and democratic amendments and everybody supporting it -- unwilling to call that up because he doesn't want to have to rely on dwem i can -- on democratic votes -- that's political gridlock for sure.
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and the doubts around federal funding are making it difficult for issuers of financing these projects. throughout the infrastructure sect to her to define long-term plans for funding necessary capital projects. then the report goes on to say, once a long-term authorization is approved, we believe it will provide an impetus for transportation agencies to reconsider high-priority projects that had been shelved because of lack of funding. but if the authorization is extended by even more continuing resolutions, such high-priority projects will remain in limbo. so jobs are at stake. it's a multimillion jobs bill. it's sitting over there not because of any problem they have with the bill per se. they don't have a bill of their own. it's not like they have something they prefer. i hear they're going to send over another extension until september, arguably with did, ii
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hear correctly, with some politically contentious issues attached, which mix it more difficult. remember this was a bipartisan bill here on the senate side. that's where we're stuck. so i wanted to take this time this evening to urge my colleagues on the republican side of the aisle to use whatever powers they have of conversation or persuasion to get the house to call up the bill. and if we have to get this bill over, the alternative is, if it's only another extension that's going to cost, i don't know, another 1,000 jobs in rhode island, we need to make sure that we get to -- it's a bill that will take us to conference, and that we get to conference as quickly as possible, and that once we are in conference, we pass a real authorization that avoids these
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problems as quickly as possible. the american people expect no less. it is not rocket science to pass a transportation bill. congress has been doing this since the days of president eisenhower, when he established the federal highway program. if we can't get this done, what does that say about our prospects of doing something complicated like cybersecurity or other issues that we'll have to face? this should be a slam dunk, particularly with a bipartisan bill that everybody supports, that came through the senate after such a clear, transparent, rigorous, and open process. so i will end my remarks there and ask unanimous consent that following morning business on tuesday, april 17, the motion to proceed to the motion to reconsider the vote by which cloture was not invoked on the motion to proceed to s. 1789 be agreed to, that the motion to
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reconsider be agreed to that there be up to tenmans of debate divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to s. 1789, that upon the use or yielding back of time, and the senate proceed to -- that the senate proceed to the cloture vote on the motion tmotionto proceed to s. 1789 upn reconsideration. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, the senate adjourn until tuesday, april 17, at 10:00 a.m., that following the prayer and pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning hour be deemed expired, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day; that following any leader remarks, the senate be in a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m., with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each; with the time equally divided and
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controlled between the two leaders or their designees; with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority controlling the final half; and that following morning business, the senate resume consideration of the motion to inscroak cloture on the motion to proceed to s. 1789, the postal reform bill, under the previous order. and that the senate recess from 12:30 p.m. until 2:15 p.m. to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i am advised to inform my colleagues that the first vote tomorrow will be at approximately 11:10 a.m. on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to s. 1789. if there is no further business to before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
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>> he indicated $7 billion from auction revenues would be available to first net to go ahead and design and construct this network. tonight, national telecommunications and administration head on spectrum policy and other telecommunication issues at 8
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eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> this year's student cam video competition asked students to create a video telling us which part of the constitution is the most important to them and why. today we'll take you to tulsa, oklahoma, where third prize winner, michael clark, is a winner. hi, michael. >> hey. >> what's the copyright clause? >> gives congress the power to protect copyright. >> why did you select this as your topic? >> mainly because i'm interested in things such as music and film, and i heard about how copyright affects music and film, but i never understood why, so i wanted to dive deeper into the sujts. >> reporter: what's the purpose? >> it allows an artist or inventer to keep their work from being stolen from somebody else and from somebody else claiming it as their own work.
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>> as new technologies came about, there's been an impact on copyright, what's been the negative consequences? >> the biggest negative consequence is file sharing also known as peer-to-peer sharing to allow an individual to take a file and distribute it to other individuals although the other individuals may have not purchased the digital file themselves, and so it's basically like stealing, but in the digital world. >> how is this impacting artists? >> mainly because it takes money away from them. the money they would have gained by individuals buying their digital material, they lose because others share that material all over the internet. >> what are some of the benefits that the motion picture industry as well as the music industry have seen from this? >> the biggest one has been access to their viewers. you can now upload something almost instantly and anybody in the world can see it if they
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have access to the internet allow k them to get the name out there more quickly. >> what's being done to enforce copyright protections? >> well, the most recent case was with file sharing website known as megaupload, and they were taken down by the federal government, and creators and founders of megaupload were arrested, and so this has decreased file sharing activity. >> what have entertainers done to adapt to the new media land scape? >> in reality, the landscape has been adapting to their needs, and the biggest adaptation they had to do was really make their work a better quality because now anybody can get their work out there, so there's a lot more competition so everybody needs to make better quality material in order for them to survive in the entertainment industry. >> what do teenagers think about copyright law? >> most teenagers despise it,
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and i think the biggest reason for this is because a lot of people think that you shouldn't make art for the purpose of -- for financial purposes. you should make it to express yourself and other things like that, so there shouldn't be any -- there shouldn't be any need to claim what's your own work if you don't need to make money off of it. >> what do you think is the future of copyright in this new digital age? >> i think copyright will forever exist. i don't think it's going to die out, but i think it might be transparent because, again, like i said earlier, a lot of people -- there's a lot of competition, and there's not just competition of quality, but competition financially so it's like an artist can be like, hey, i created this, and you can listen to it for free, and although it's not good as what these guys created, my stuff's free. i think eventually we'll reach a
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point where artists won't make money from their music or at least off the digital files, but just off of things like gigs and shows and things of that nature. >> thank you, michael, and congratulations on the win. >> thank you. >> here's a brief portion from the documentary called "the copyright clause and the supreme court in the media." >> there was a clause that legalized the vcr because when they came out, people were worried people could not go to the movies anymore. a vcr, and i record or copy my copy of "star wars," and then i have two copies and sell it to discourage others. well, the net impact of this is interesting. the supreme court and other courts ruled that if you purchase it, you have a right to make a copy of your own purchase, that there are laws in place and that you have
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something, it's digital media, in this case, it was analog in the form of the vcr tapes, that you have a right to make a copy in case it's damaged, you have a backup. it made reasonable sense, and so the supreme court really ruled.
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addressed a group of high school students in atlanta, georgia. many of the students in that audience that day were about to join the work force, and president reagan spoke about the strange, to use his word, tax system that would soon claim a portion of their paychecks. in his speech, president reagan pledged, "we're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share." he went on to note that under the country's complex tax rules, it was possible for millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver pays 10% of his salary. president reagan called this
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inequity, with millionaires paying higher tax rates -- lower tax rates than bus drivers -- to use his word -- crazy. and he said, "it's time we stopped it." one year later, president reagan signed into law bipartisan tax reform that closed many of the loopholes and ensured that the highest-earning americans paid a fair share. the 1986 tax reform deal set the tax rate on investment income, overwhelmingly earned by those at the very top of the income ladder, at the same rate as regular wage income. unfortunately, in the years that followed, lobbyists have been all over congress and congress has restored many of the loopholes that president reagan cut, and it has repeatedly reduced the tax rates on investment income. the capital gains tax rate has gone from 28% in the bipartisan reagan tax reform to 15% today.
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once again, those at the very top of the income spectrum have opportunities to cut their tax bills that are not available to regular middle-class families. let's look at where we are today , a quarter century after , a quarter century after >> let's look at where we are today a quarter century after the last mayor overhaul of our tax system. this is 5 building that has a story to tell. this is the building on park avenue in new york city. this building, it's large enough that it has its own zip code so we know from public irs information gathered by zip code that the very wealthy and successful individuals and corporations that call this building their home with an
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average adjusted gross income of $1.2 million each paid on average a 17.7% federal tax rate in the last available year that we have information for. a 14.7% total federal tax rate is less than the rate that the average new york city janitor, the average new york city doorman, or the average new york city security guard pays. the system is upside down, and it's not just in this building. each year, the internal revenue service publishes a report detailing the taxes paid by the highest earning of 400 americans. last may, the irs published the most recent data on the top 4 hirks taxpayers for the year 2008. that's how they did in that year. they had an average income of $270 million each.
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that's not bad. in fact, that's wonderful. that's part of what makes america great, but here's the crazy part to quote president reagan. on average, these 400 extremely high earning americans, $270 million in one year, actually paid an average federal tax rate of just 18.2% on adjusted gross income. we've spent a fair amount of time in the senate debating whether the top income tax rate should be 35% or something else like it was in the clinton boom years. .come a single filer would h . 18.2% or more in federal taxes. it is $39,350. if you look at the department of labor's wage levels, that's
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about what a truck driver on average earns in rhode island, $40,200 is what an average truck driver, according to the bureau of labor statistics, in rhode island, more than the $39,350, which means that they're probably paying actually a higher tax rate as a single truck driver in providence, rhode island, than a billionaire who just made $270 million in the last year. that's just not fair. that's not right. that's not the progressive tax system we've always had. i recently heard from one such truck driver in rhode island, mike noons. mike noons is a member of teamsters local 251 and he joined me for a round-table discussion on tax issues in cranston, rhode island. mike said, "i've been a middle-class worker here in rhode island since i was in my early 20's. my wife and i pay our taxes and it's frustrating to hear that multimillionaires are getting special treatment to pay a lower rate." well, mike's right and i hear
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the same thing as i travel around rhode island of the i know that my colleagues hear the same thing as they meet with their constituents across the country. they all agree with president reagan, that a tax system that allows many of the highest income among us to pay less than a truck driver must be fixed. the problem goes beyond the top 400 income earners in the country. the congressional research service confirms that roughly one-quarter of million-dollar-plus earners -- about 94,500 taxpayers -- pay a lower effective tax rate than over 10 million moderate-income taxpayers. reuters recently reported this: "taxpayers earning more than $1 million a year pay an average u.s. income tax rate of nearly 19%." and the story goes on, "about 65% of taxpayers who earn more than $1 million face a lower tax
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rate than the median tax rate for moderate-income earners making $100,000 or less a year." let me say that again. "about 65% of taxpayers who earn more than $1 million face a lower tax rate than the median tax rate for moderate-income earners making $100,000 or less a year." our tax system is supposed to be progressive. the more you earn, the higher the rate you pay. that's not class warfare. that's tax policy. and it's been that way for decades, if not generations. we undermine that principle when we allow the highest-income americans to pay a lower tax rate than the package truck driver delivering packages to their door pays. it's no wonder that so many of the rhode islanders with whom i've spoken have lost confidence that our tax system gives them a straight deal. with the top 1% of americans earning 23% of our nation's
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income -- the top 1% of americans earning 23% of our nation's income -- and controlling 34%, more than a third, of our nation's wealth, it would be difficult to argue that our system is too progressive. let's look at this other graphic of all of our nation's wealth, the top 5% of americans own over 60% of it. of all of our nation's wealth, the top 5% own more than 60% of all the wealth in the country. the top 1% control over a third of it. and the 400 families at the very top -- the 400 i talked about earlier -- own almost 3% of all america's wealth just among those 400 families. these are proportions we have not seen since the roaring 1920's, and they're getting steadily worse. now, we're not going to overhaul
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the nation's tax laws this evening, but in a few hours, we will have a chance to advance legislation to restore some fairness into our tax system. this long overdue bill, "the paying a fair share act of 2012," would implement the so-called buffett rule, after warren buffett, who's famously la meant that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary does. to correct this glaring tax inequity, this bill would ensure that those at the very top pay at least the tax rates faced by middle-class families. i want to thank senators akaka, begich, leahy, harkin, blumenthal, sanders, schumer, reed of rhode island, rockefeller, franken, boxer, durbin and levin for cosponsor this measure, and i would ask unanimous consent to add senator lautenberg as an additional cosponsor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: the structure of the bill is pretty simple. if your total income, capital gains included, is over $2 million, you calculate your taxes under the regular system. and if your effective rate turns out to be greater than 30%, you
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pay that rate. if, on the other hand, your effective tax rate is below 30% 30% -- like the 11% tax rate warren buffett paid in 2010 -- then you'd pay the fair share tax of 30% instead. taxpayers earning less than $1 million -- which is more than 99.8% of americans -- would not be affected by the bill at all. for taxpayers earning between $1 million and $2 million, the fair share tax gets gradually phased in so that ultimately when you earn over $2 million, you're subject to the full 30% minimum rate. the one exception the bill makes to the 30% minimum is maintain the provision for charity giving. taxpayers are permitted to subtract the same amount of contributions allowed under the regular income tax from their tashingable income. the reason for this one exception should be self-est dent. charity benefits others and taxpayers should be encouraged to give.
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some say that given our fragile economic recovery, now is the wrong time to raise taxes on anyone. while middle-class families continue to struggle through the recovery, it seems the boom times have already returned for those at the very top. according to a recent analysis by university of california at berkly economist eye manuel sies, 93% of the income growth in 2010 went to the top 1% of income earners, 93% of the income growth went to the top 1% of income earners. even more astounding, 37% of the income growth went to the few thousand taxpayers in the top 0.01%. with so much income growth at the very top and with looming budget deficits, it is hard to argue that people with seven, or
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eight, or even nine-figure incomes can't afford to pay a reasonable tax rate. and just to be clear, it's been said on this floor that this is a tax on investment investmentt this is a tax on job creation. that is wrong. this is a tax on one thing -- income. republicans have criticized the amount of revenue that would be generated by the bill. the ranking republican on the senate finance committee called the $47 billion that the joingts committee on taxation has estimated a meager sum. well, in rhode island we don't consider $47 billion to be a meager sum. it's enough money, for instance to permanently keep subsidized student loan interest rates from jumping from the current 3.4% to 6.8% in july, which they will do unless we act. if we could use this bill to overset the cost of keeping
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student loan interest rates low, then there are millions of students out there who would call that benefit something other than meager. we could use the $48 billion on badly needed infrastructure projects and create 611,000 jobs nationwide. in rhode island, we have 11% unemployment and a long backlog of transportation infrastructure projects. at the top of that list is the via duct bridge on interstate 95 through providence. this critical link on the northeast corridor running up through rhode island has wooden boards inserted between the i-beams underneath to prevent the concrete on the roadway from falling in on the traffic below and also where the being a tram rails are there are wooden planks to keep it from falling on the trains below. i don't think repair of this bridge and others would be meager at $47 billion worth,
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particularly if we phut it into an infrastructure bank and renched it for even more jobs. it's wort worth noting that this legislation would generate far more revenue than the $47 billion that the republicans complain of if the republicans were to succeed in extending the very high bush tax cuts. if the bush tax cuts for people continue, the revenue from the bill jumps from $47 billion to $162 billion over a ten-year budget who are rye xiong. -- horizon. the buffett rule can ensure that those at the top pay a fair share no matter what loopholes, no matter what special treatments congress adds to the tax code in the future. finally, the senate republican leader has described the bill as
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yet another proposal from the white house that won't create a single job or lower the price at the pump by a penny. the minority leader is right that the aim is mott to lower the unemployment rarity or the price of gasoline. however, phut the $47 billion in revenue into infrastructure, you could create 611,000 infrastructure jobs and a lot of good infrastructure as well. and if you put the $47 billion into liheap, you could help millions of americans pay their energy bills. but let me add an additional point. the republicans are claiming that this bill, which is a tax fairness bill, not a job-creating bill, will not create a single expwrob. of course if you spent the revenue, it would, but that's a separate discussion. at the same time that they're making that point, the republicans in washington are
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sitting on our highway bill, which creates three million jobs, and they won't call it up on the house side because they don't want to rely on democrat votes. three million jobs are waiting action in the house on the bipartisan senate highway bill that had 75 senators supporting it, and they won't call it up -- the republicans won't call it up because they don't want to use democrat votes? what kind of washington insider logic is is that? the people across this country who will go to work on those roads and bridges don't think that makes any sense. and for the republicans now to be talking about jobs on this bill while they have a three million jobs bill that they are blockading in the house, the word "jobs" should turn to ashes in their mouths.
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there are plenty of things that this narrow fairness bill won't do. it will not bring world peace. it won't save endangered whales from extinction. it won't cure the common cold. it will do none of those things. it will restore the confidence of middle-class americans in our tax system by ashiewr assuring t those at the very top of our income spectrum aren't paying lower rates than regular families do. in addition to restoring fairness to the tax code, the bill will generate considerable revenue to cut the deficit or invest in job creation and critical programs. i happen to think that tax fairness and tens of billions of dollars in revenue or in deficit reduction are reasons enough to pass the bill. and if the republican leader would like to work with us on attacking other issues, i'm wide thoap that. but today's vote is about tax
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fairness. it is about undoing a gimmick in the tax code that allows people earning over a quarter billion of dollars a year to pay lower tax rates than truck drivers. this has become a partisan issue, which is really surprising, because the principles of a progressive system of code has always been a basic american tax policy principle, and the arguments we're making today about paying a fair share were made exactly by ronald reagan. but things have changed, and so there is this squabble. even business owners support this bill. a recent poll conducted by the american sustainable business council, the main street alliance and the small business majority found that 58% of business owners said that those making over $1 million a year aren't paying their fair share of taxes. and 50% supported increasing taxes for tows at the top. these business owners knows that it's simply fair for the most
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fortunate and successful americans to pay a larger share of their income in taxes than less successful families do. that's what a progressive tax system is supposed to do. that's what it has always done. vadly, over the past few -- sadly, over the past few decades, the effective tax rates have plummeted. this chart shows the effective federal income tax rate for the top 400 income earners since 1992. as you can see, there has been a dramatic drop from 1995 to 2008. these rates are for federal income tax. thank you add in the small amount of payroll taxes paid by those at the very top, which is a separate discussion, but they fall 100% on the income of middle-income families but only on a small portion of the superhigh income families, the tax rate for 2508 goes up to
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18.1% counting in the withholding. that is the effective federal tax rate of those truck driver in providence. the trengdz in falling tax rates for those making seven figures in income or more who is eroded the confidence of ordinary americans who do pay their fair share. this is another quote from president reagan's 1985 speech on tax fairness. president reagan, the man whom so many conservative republicans revere, said, quote, "what we're trying to move against is institutionalized unfairness. we want to see that everyone pays their fair share. and no one gets a free ride. our reasons -- its good for society when we all know that no one is manipulating the system to their advantage because they're rich and powerful." that is president reagan in
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1985. today his party is defending that manipulation. in the 27 years since that speech, the american playing field has been skewed ever more toward the rich and powerful u from bankruptcy reform that favors big corporations over people to the citizens united decision which has allowed corporations and billionaires to spend unlimited cash to influence american elections. to this lower tax rate for ultra high income earners. the american people have simply not been getting a street deal from washington. many are calling the vote we will have on the buffett rule today a test vote because it is on a procedural motion and the pundits don't expect it to pass. i agree. this is a test vote, but it's a test of a different sort. this is a test of washington, d.c., to do something that is simple, to do something that is right, and to do something that is fair for the middle class.
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if we proceed to and pass this bill, it will show the american people that congress is capable of 1257bd standing by their sidt exong is exaivel being by their side, that congress is capable of saying "no" to a powerful and well-funded special interest. if we fail, it will indicate exactly had a president reagan feared: that the rich and powerful are able to manipulate the system to their advantage and we in congress will do nothing about it. one of the things that america stands for in this world is that we are fair with each other. we get a straight deal and we give each other a straight deal. that is one of the ways in which america stands as an example in the rest of the world. there are plenty of countries whose internal, political, and economic systems amount to a
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racket, a racket that is rigged for the benefit of the rich and powerful and against farmers and workers and small businesses and ordinary families. some of those countries are so bad we call them clep to crass sis. but that has never been america. that is not the america of the founding. tses not the america of ronald reagan. it is not the america that shiengs its light into the four corners of the world as an example to the rest of the wor world. that is not the america that we are here to serve. we must be vigilant in protecting the ideals that make this country what it is. i urge my colleagues, democrats and republicans alike, to heed president reagan's words and to support this legislation which will ensure that a favored segment of the highest-earning
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americans once again do something as simple as pay their fair share in taxes. let us show the american people that our nation really does stand apart as an exemplar of fairness and of equal opportunity and of equal responsibility under the law enforcement i thank the chair. irsee colleagues on the floorks and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, we stand here on tax day and we also stand here in the middle of the weakest economic recovery since the great depression. a time when economists across the spectrum agree there is an
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urgent need for us to take our tax code and make it more efficient, to reform our tax code to help grow our economy and add jobs. and instead of an administration or leadership in this body proposing serious tax reforms that will actually get people back to work, we're spending this week debating a political proposal that no one can credibly argue will create a single job. except maybe some tax accountants because it adds more complexity to an already way too complex tax code. unfortunately, this has become tax gimmick week here in washington. it's particularly disappointing because as a nation, we are stuck in an historically weak recovery, with high unemployment, record long-term unemployment, and anemic economic growth. this recovery rate is different, sadly. we're still millions of jobs
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down from where we are at the start of the recession, which was about four years ago. interesting to compare it to recoveries. in 2001, the so-called jobless recovery at this point in the recovery, about four years after the recession, the nation had not only brought back all the jobs that were lost in the recession, but we had added hundreds of thousands of new jobs. even in 1981, considered the deepest recession in modern history before the most recent one, at this time, four years after the recession, we had added six million new jobs to the economy. unfortunately, today as we stand here, we're still down 5.5 million jobs. so instead of adding six million jobs as we had during the reagan administration, after the 1981 deep recession, today as we stand here, we are still trying to find how to add back the jobs we lost in the recession, 5.5
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million jobs, 5.5 million families across this country who continue to look for hope and opportunity. so in the midst of this weak recovery, the weakest since the great depression, i think it's reasonable to expect that the president of the united states and the united states congress would focus on real solutions to create jobs. in particular, real solutions to reform our inefficient, complex and outdated tax code, because there is a consensus out there we need to do that. to make the tax code more projobs, to encourage work and savings and investment requires broad-based reform, and everybody knows it. and the president's own commission called the simpson-bowles commission recommended it. most recently the president's own jobs council recommended it. mr. president, we need a proposal taken up by this united states senate that's driven by good economics. and instead what we're getting
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this week is one that's driven by campaign rhetoric. my colleagues on this side of the aisle will soon bring to the floor president obama's proposed new tax targeting investment income. the buffet tax i imposes a minim tax on anyone earning above $1 million. this new tax will bring in less than .5% -- less than .5% of the individual income tax that are paid. by the way, this will be enough to pay one week's interest on our $15 trillion national debt. that's it. it's certainly not about deficit reduction at a time of $1 trillion deficits. the president also says this new tax on investments on american businesses is necessary to, as he said, invest in the things that would help the economy
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grow. this apparently means this will result in more government spending. private enterprises that actually create jobs are not one of those things that will be making the investments. instead it will be investments through government spending. i just think the buffett rule is bad economics, i think it's bad fiscal policy, and i think it's a distraction from the broader bipartisan effort underway to achieve fundamental tax reform that is necessary to unleash a true economic recovery. the proposal is built, by the way, on this notion that i heard from my colleague a moment ago that the tax code is not progressive. we can argue about what progressive means, but here are some statistics. according to the tax policy center, the top 1% of wage earners in this country, income earners, pay a 28% federal tax rate. by contrast, americans with incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 pay a 19% tax rate.
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another way to look at this is that the top 1% of taxpayers now pay 39% of all federal income taxes. the top 10% now pay 86% of all federal income taxes. and those below the 50% mark now pay 1% of federal income taxes. is that progressive or not? i would say that it is progressive. so to my colleagues who are saying the income tax is not progressive, i don't think that's the concern here. i think the concern is we have an income tax code that has too many preferences, deductions, credits, exemptions. by the way, mostly taken advantage of by wealthier taxpayers. we ought to reform the tax code. but because the tax code is already so progressive as we talked about, this proposal from the president works primarily by increasing the tax a lot of
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wealthy people pay on investment income. primarily investment income, what's known as long-term capital gains. capital gains have historically been taxed in this country at a lower rate for individuals, and they're taxed at a lower rate for good reason. capital gains are the return on longer-term investments and enterprises that create jobs, and that's something we've always wanted to encourage in this country. a lower tax on capital gains drives job training investment, and according to the nonpartisan congressional committee on taxation, it increases wages over the long run. by having a lower rate for capital investments, long-term investments in job creation, it will increase wages in the long run. by the way, that's why presidents kennedy, reagan, clinton and bush all backed capital gains rates cuts, as president kennedy said so well, "a rising tide lifts all boats."
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second, we should realize that raising the capital gains rate doesn't translate directly into higher revenues. why is that? it's because it's an elective tax. think about it. you only pay it when you choose to sell an asset, when you choose to realize what's called a gain, when you sell something. you don't have to incur this tax. common sense, experience teaches a higher economic gains rate causes some to hold assets rather than sell them just as a lower capital gains rate will encourage more people to sell an asset because the rate will be lower. and this is what's happened. after every recent capital gains cut, rate cut, in 19 81, 1997 and 2003 capital gains revenue actually increased. you had a cut in the rate in 1981, 1987 and 2003 and what happened? the revenues actually increased. lower rate, higher


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